The Pacers nine-point fourth quarter lead was erased, the Miami Heat had seized control and it looked like the curtain may be closing on Indiana’s season.
Not so fast.
With LeBron James watching from the bench, Indiana refused to stick to the script. The Pacers withstood the Heat rally and hit back with one of their own, securing a 99-92 victory and tying up the Eastern Conference Finals 2-2.
James scored a game-high 24 points and appeared poised to help Miami to a back-breaking 3-1 series lead. But foul trouble — a rarity for the NBA MVP — eventually did him in, as James picked up his sixth foul with just under a minute to play.
In addition to James’ disqualification, the stat line severely favored the Pacers. Indiana outshot (50.0 percent to 39 percent) and outrebounded (49-30) Miami, and again saw all five of its starters reach double figures in points.
But the loss of James down the stretch was clearly a key factor. View the list to see the crunch time keys to victory for Indiana and what plays cost Miami a chance for control of the series.
LeBron Hits Key Triple
After Roy Hibbert converted a massive three-point play with 1:30 left to put the Pacers up five, Miami turned to its ace to keep hope alive. LeBron James, who had his long-range jumper working all game, took the ball at the left angle and let a deep triple fly. The conversion trimmed the deficit to 94-92 and all of a sudden it looked the Heat may again steal a victory from the leading Pacers.
LeBron Fouls Out
The Miami hopes for victory took a massive blow just 24 seconds later. A Lance Stephenson runner pushed the Pacers lead up to four, and Miami needed a basket to keep the pressure on. But with Dwyane Wade dribbling up top, James was whistled for an illegal screen on Stephenson, a call that was met with much dismay on the Miami side. Unfortunately for the Heat, this call eliminated James from the game and turned the ball over, a crushing blow to the visiting Heat.
With LeBron sidelined, it was no surprise that the Heat struggled to find any organization. A Paul George turnover gave Miami one last shot, but Dwyane Wade was whistled for a travel with 26 seconds left. Over the final 25 seconds, the Heat missed three shots from three-point range and watched as Indiana made three free throws to ice the game. James could only turn his attention to Game 5, which will now carry much more importance for the Heat.